PM orders quick construction of integrated avocado service centre

MBEYA: PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has directed the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the construction procedures of an integrated avocado service centre for storing and processing the crop in the Mbeya Region are completed quickly.

Mr Majaliwa made the directives on Saturday during his working visit to Kiwira in Rungwe District, Mbeya Region, where he discovered the challenge of rotting avocados from farmers. The PM also instructed the ministry to provide education to the public about the best avocado farming practices to increase value and quality.

The Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Enock Nyasebwa, informed the Premier that the ministry is in the final stages of completing the contractual procedures to enable the contractor to start construction.

“The construction of the factory will increase the value of the avocado crop as it will enable farmers to store their crops in a cold room and process the fruit into various products, including oil,” Mr Nyasebwa said.

He added that in ensuring the crop increases its value, the government has started a plan to set criteria to be met by the seedlings that are planted, saying the aim is to get a quality crop that will meet the standard of the international market to increase the availability of foreign currency and boost the economy of the people and the country at large.

The Prime Minister also inspected and laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Busokelo District Council administration building in the Lwangwa area in the region.

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Speaking earlier, Busokelo District Council Executive Director Ms Loema Peter told the PM that the construction has reached 94 per cent and asked the government to complete the procedure of allocating 2.3bn/- to the council so that it can complete the construction.

She said that they have received 6.08bn/- for construction and 300m/- for the purchase of office furniture. In January of this year, China selected a sample of Tanzania’s avocado farms and packhouses for compliance auditing, a major breakthrough towards Beijing’s commitment to allow locally grown butter fruits to access its lucrative 150-million-US-dollar market.

All fresh avocados exported to China, the world’s second most populous nation, must comply with Beijing’s phytosanitary laws and regulations, safety standards, and be free from quarantine pests.

The Ministry of Agriculture has formally notified TAHA, the horticultural industry champion, that the General Administration of Chinese Customs (GACC), responsible for overseeing food compliance, has selected three sample plantations for video inspection, raising hopes for farmers to export avocados to the lucrative Asian market soon.

The letter, signed by Mr Samson Poneja for the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, indicates that the GACC has chosen the Arusha-based Usa Limited farm, Rutuba and Africado farms of Iringa and Kilimanjaro, respectively, for appraisal, affirming Beijing’s commitment to open up its profitable market for Tanzanian-grown avocados.

“The video inspection involves processes ranging from harvesting in a farm to transporting to packhouses, cold room storage, and packaging ready for shipping,” says the Ministry of Agriculture’s Plant Health Compliance and Trade Facilitation Manager, Mr Mdili Katemani.

Tanzania and China signed a protocol on sanitary and phytosanitary (PSP) requirements during President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s maiden state visit to Beijing, where she engaged her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, implying that China would allow Tanzanian-grown avocados to access its sprawling market for the ‘butter fruits’.

Overwhelmed by the update, the multi-million-dollar horticultural industry champion and TAHA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Jacqueline Mkindi, said that China’s gesture will herald fortunes to local farmers and bolster bilateral trade ties between tries.

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